Outdoor Indigenous space opens on campus
The Queen’s University Office of Indigenous Initiatives officially opened the Outdoor Indigenous Gathering Space, an important place of ceremony, learning, and reflection for the Queen’s community, on Monday morning. The structure creates an area for ceremonial fires, as well as for teaching, learning, and engaging with Indigenous ways of knowing and being.
Architecturally, the structure incorporates significant Indigenous symbology. Entryways were positioned facing east and west, denoting the rising and setting of the sun, and the overall design refers to the medicine wheel and is designed for sacred ceremonial activities like smudging.
“Faculty members in Indigenous Studies, Geography and Planning, and other units had identified the need for dedicated Indigenous gathering spaces as early as 2017,” explains Dean Barbara Crow, Faculty of Arts and Science. “There was careful consideration to the landscape in developing this space and it will serve as a strong reminder of the Indigenous peoples on whose land we are able to live, work, and study.”
The project was funded by a donation from Bader Philanthropies, Inc. – long-time supporters and donors to Queen’s. Additional funding comes from the Office of the Principal and the Office of the Provost, as well as from the Faculty of Arts and Science.
“We’re proud to have supported the development of the outdoor learning space and know that all of our students, faculty, and staff will benefit from having this wonderful space available on campus,” added Dean Crow.
Part of the Queen’s ongoing commitment to truth and reconciliation, the structure’s location was selected to work in harmony with other notable Indigenized areas of campus, including the Kanonhweratónhtshera G’di-mikwanim (The Welcoming Room) in nearby Mackintosh-Corry Hall, and new Indigenous spaces in the neighbouring Agnes Etherington Art Centre, being created as part of Agnes Reimagined.
The new space joins a wider array of Indigenous spaces across campus as well, like the Endaayaan-Tkanónsote student residence and its outdoor courtyard Indigenous gathering space.
“The land is our first teacher,” Kandice Baptiste, the Senior Director, Student Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging explained at the opening, “And this was purposely made to be in the land. For folks to have access to both indoor and outdoor spaces so that we can as a campus better understand our roles and responsibilities as human beings.”